Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve


This is the stage being set up for Dublin's official New Year's Eve celebration on College Green. There are lots of events going on over the weekend, with full details available on nyedublin.ie.

There was quite a bit of discussion during 2011 of converting the College Green branch of Bank of Ireland into a cultural centre. I think that's quite unlikely to happen, at least for now, but it's interesting to see the building used for an event like today's. I wonder if the Bank are heading off the possible demand for such a conversion of use by co-operating in providing support for events? And to speculate further, is College Green starting to function as Dublin's main street or main square? O'Connell Street's recent makeover hasn't really changed its character; College Green by contrast was the setting for Barack Obama's address to the Irish people.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

New Year's Eve

This year Dublin's going to have a proper, official New Year's Eve celebration. Details are over on nyedublin.ie. There's a three-day festival of events, with the main event being the countdown concert on College Green on New Year's Eve.

Happy Christmas everyone.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day trip: Solstice days at Newgrange


It's the week before Christmas, and all through the city.... there are seasonal events a-plenty. Earlier in the week I was in Christ Church for the very beautiful service of Nine Lessons and Carols. There are markets and funfairs and shop windows to look at and about a zillion different Santas to visit. For a different seasonal experience, though, you might want to think of taking a trip out of the city, to Meath, and visiting the ancient monument that is Newgrange. I visited yesterday to catch a different flavour of the seasonal mood.



The event of the Solstice morning, when the light hits the inner chamber, is well known,although the event itself may not be very well seen or not seen at all, if the weather is bad, as it often is in this country. Entry to the Solstice event is strictly regulated and participants are chosen by lottery every year. Visitors can fill out lottery forms at the visitors' centre. What I hadn't known before my visit yesterday is that the event is not restricted to one single day, but happens every morning for a period of about six days around the Solstice. The lottery winners are assigned a particular dawn over that period, and they may or may not get lucky.

It had been over fifteen years since my previous visit and much had changed. All access to the monument is now through the visitors' centre, although I understand this is relaxed on mornings around Solstice. The beautiful visitors' centre itself is very worth seeing. It is designed to fit in to the landscape and this makes it look like an extended Hobbit hole, with earth roofs and outside access on different levels.


The visitors' centre contains a Brambles cafe (reliable if pricey), a rather poor gift shop and an exhibition of the history of Newgrange and the people associated with it. Not being an expert, I can't judge how historically accurate the exhibition was and how much of it is speculative in order to provide a better experience to the visitor. Nonetheless, it was interesting and beautifully put together.


The ticket to see the monument/s (in addition to Newgrange you can also go see Knowth, for extra cost) include the entry to the exhibition. In order to see the monuments, you need to take a shuttle bus, across the Boyne from the visitors' centre. The trip to Newgrange takes about five minutes. At the monument, you are met by your guide, who talks to you about the site and then brings you inside. I was very pleased with our guide emphasising that despite all the theories out there, nobody knows for certain what exactly the purpose of the monument was.


The passage into the inner chamber is very narrow, to the point at which I had to turn sideways as my shoulders were too wide to pass through. Inside, the lights were turned off in order to simulate the entry of the beam of light at Solstice, but at this point there was a surprise. The guide told us that the beam of pale white light on the floor was natural, that around the days of Solstice, the ambient sunlight outside is enough to produce a ghostly impression of the Solstice event. The event itself would, of course, be much stronger and brighter, but nonetheless, he noted that what we saw in the afternoon was better than what the Solstice group had seen at that dawn.

Once back at the visitors' centre, I filled in a lottery form for the 2012 Solstice. Hey, you never know.

Information about access, cost and opening times on Heritage Ireland

Dartmouth Sessions


Not sure when this was filmed in Dartmouth Square but it's cool and somehow festive.  It's the West Cork Ukulele Orchestra performing the classic Ra-ra Rasputin by Boney M.

Monday, December 19, 2011

My review of the year

We decided to do some posts on what we loved in Dublin this year.  Most of the links in this one are to our own reviews.

My standout single production of the year was The Abbey's brilliant production of Pygmalion.


On Open House weekend in October, my favourite tour was Leinster House, which is of course open all year round to visitors. 

I saw a few musicals this year and it's a toss up between Riverdance and Mamma Mia as to which I enjoyed more.  Of course they are entirely different.  One thing's for sure though, the Peter Pan musical was the worst I've seen in a long time!

Other things I loved in Dublin this year, which deserve mentions are L Mulligan Grocer, Dublin Bikes (which encouraged me to buy one of my own this year) and the now up and running architecture walking tours.

I look forward to a whole new year of culture (with bonus avoiding the European Cup) next year.

Happy Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Winter Wonderland in Kilmainham


So many Christmas markets! As well as Temple Bar, Docklands, and Christ Church Cathedral, one of the other choices you have today is 7 Up Winter Wonderland in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Unlike those other markets I've mentioned this event has a lot more to it than just a market: there's an ice rink, circus, Santa Claus, and various rollercoaster-type rides.


And thank goodness, because the market part of Winter Wonderland isn't anything special, certainly not worth a visit for its own sake. The food and drink is quite... germanic, like a poor (but pricey) imitation of Oktoberfest. I happen to like German food, but not everyone does.


Frohe Weihnachten!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christ Church Cathedral Christmas Concert

Christ Church Cathedral's annual Christmas concert is on tomorrow, Thursday 15th. Tickets cost €18 (€14 concession) and can be purchased from www.tickets.ie or by calling 0818 333 231. Doors open at 7.15pm and the concert will begin at 8pm.

The Cathedral is a beautiful setting and well suited to this sort of event. Here's (part of) what Christ Church say about the concert:
Sing along with old favorites such as O Come, All Ye Faithful, be inspired by glorious choral gems such as Good King Wenceslas and Silent Night, and top it all off by singing some popular and beloved choruses from Handel’s Messiah along with the sterling voices of the Cathedral Choir.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Winter solstice celebration in The Complex

The Complex in Smithfield is holding a winter solstice celebration on Wednesday 21st, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Here's how The Complex describe it:
Winter Solstice at The Complex is an ancient celebration in tune with ancestral traditions, for this unique time in the turning of the seasons. Blending ceremonies inclusive of all peoples with feasting, trading, entertainment and community. Join us at this uplifting energising event in the heart of Dublin’s old market centre, Smithfield Square.


Parts of the event look a bit - what's the polite term? - "New Age", and mightn't be to everyone's taste. But I'm guessing that it'll be a fun evening.

The event is free. Under 15s must be accompanied.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Docklands Christmas Market

I dropped by the Docklands Christmas Market on Saturday, which was a cold but dry day - in other words, perfect weather for a market.  Now in its 7th year, the market is on George's Dock beside the CHQ building - the same place as they hold Oktoberfest every year.  In some ways, it feels quite similar to Oktoberfest - there's lots of hot food stalls selling similar fair but otherwise, it's far more Christmas-y and family orientated.  There's not one but two carousels - one is big enough for adults and is an entirely reasonable €3 a go (no kids in my party so we decided to forgo the experience).  The big carousel has been restored and looks very impressive.  Down on the dock itself, there are stands with people selling a variety of weird and wonderful Christmas presents from books to toys to dodgy metallic healing jewellery!  There were charity carol singers on a stage in the afternoon adding a nice festive air to the, em, air.  I imagine it's getting lots of hungry IFSC workers on the weekday lunchtimes but it was reasonably quiet, and therefore quite relaxed and fun when I was there on Saturday.

The Docklands Christmas Market is open every day until 23rd December from noon on weekdays and 10:00 on weekends until 20:00.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Temple Bar Food Market returns to Meeting House Square

Temple Bar Food Market has returned to Meeting House Square. It's a lovely market and I'm pleased to see it back home in the square. For the last while (until today) the market was scattered around Temple Bar while four large retractable canopies were put up to provide Meeting House Square with protection from the rain. As inconvenient as it was for the market to be moved away temporarily, the development will be for the best in the long term - starting now! I've been to events in the square in the rain, and no amount of hot drinks or rain-proof clothing can redeem an event from bad weather.

If you've been to the market before you'll find the stalls back where they were before the move. There are stalls selling bread, hot food, coffee, cheese, oysters, fruit, olives, chocolate, and so on. It's one of the nicest food markets around and reasonably priced considering the central location. The market runs from 10 am to around 4 pm (or perhaps a little later) each Saturday.

I'm pleasantly surprised by how bright the market is even with the coverings deployed.





Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New plays in Project Arts Centre

Two new plays open in Project Arts Centre this evening.

The Making of 'Tis Pity She’s a Whore. This performance combines film and stage, inspired by the play 'Tis Pity She’s a Whore.

Six Characters In Search of an Author also starts tonight, performed by Dublin Youth Theatre and directed by Jason Byrne. The play was written decades ago by Luigi Pirandello and its concept is as described in the name - six characters abandoned by their playwright demand the chance to tell their story.

As a general rule, I'm quite wary of films or plays about films or plays. Project Arts Centre though tends to do a good job of choosing its plays so I hope I'm wrong and that both of these production prove successful.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Big Smoke Writing Factory

Big Smoke Writing Factory are holding another Literary Cafe today. Here's what they have to say about it:

Big Smoke Writing Factory are proud to announce the return of their ever popular Literary Café! Always the highlight of the Big Smoke calendar, this event is set to take place on Sunday December 4th from 2 to 5pm in the ideal surroundings of The Loft Bookshop, The Twisted Pepper Building, 54 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1.

Start the festive season in style with a wonderfully relaxing afternoon featuring readings from our students, mulled wine and plenty
of Christmas cheer. Be the first to meet some fantastic emerging Dublin writers and hear all the exciting new work happening at the
Big Smoke Writing Factory.

As always this event is FREE and open to everyone. We look forward to seeing you there!


I enjoyed the last Literary Cafe I was at, in Ormond Wine Bar. It was quite popular so I expect that the Loft Bookshop - a smaller venue - could be quite crowded.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Government Inspector @ The Abbey

The Abbey's Christmas offering is The Government Inspector by Nikolai Gogol.  It's a new version written by Roddy Doyle and commissioned by The Abbey.  Gogol's original version was written in 1836 and revised in 1842.  It takes place in an unnamed provincial town where a corrupt bureaucracy reigns.  They get wind of an inspector coming from St Petersburg incognito.  At the same time, a young civil servant has already arrived in the town on his way to Saratov and the mayor & co mistake this eejit for the inspector.  Mayhem ensues.

Roddy Doyle's new version doesn't change the setting, time, Russian names or story.  He has updated the language (which of course is in English) and given everyone Irish accents.  The provincials all have Irish country accents and the young fop, Khlestakov, played with a flourish by Ciarán O'Brien and his servant, Osip, have Dublin accents.  As a Russian speaker, it is hilarious to hear a culchie accent say names like Piotr Ivanovich and Amos Fyodorovich.  The new dialogue is littered with references to a modern bankrupt Ireland with brown envelopes, mental reservations and economic terms being bandied about.  And needless to say, a huge amount of laughs.

The opening scene, where all the town officials gather around a long narrow table, somehow reminded me of RTÉ's Primetime.  The action centres around the mayor, played brilliantly by Don Wycherley.  He bumbles, he stutters, he bribes, and at one stage climbs the set.  A joy to watch.  I also want to single out Damian Kearney as the Postmaster with a particulary amusing delivery of his lines.  There's a lot of physical comedy in this play and the set was designed for it.  However, the stark industrial look of the stage, filled with rubbish bags was the least attractive feature of the whole production.  For me, a slightly more traditional and less utilitarian stage would have gone down better. 

The program deserves a paragraph all of its own.  It contains a cutout cartoon drawn by Martyn Turner of the Irish Times.  I have loved all the recent programs from The Abbey but this one is the best.  It features sketches for the costumes, lots of backstage photos and all the usual bits.

My evening's companion very much wished to be featured in the review. She loved it as much as I did and felt that there was a certain sense of familiarity here with Roddy Doyle's version of The Playboy of the Western World.  Both plays feature an interloper and mistaken identity.

The Government Inspector runs until 28th January, so you've ages to get around to seeing it.  I promise it'll be worth your while.

Christ Church Cathedral Christmas Market

There's a Christmas market on today in Christ Church Cathedral today from 11 am to 4 pm. It'll be on again next Saturday (10th) and the one after that (17th). I went along last week to take a look - the market is in the crypt of the cathedral, which is pretty interesting in its own right. There are about 15 stalls featuring a range of arts, crafts, jewellery and a few seasonally-themed goods. The venue has a lovely, warm atmosphere.

There are also several food stalls outside in the open air.








As an aside, I was delighted to see a display in the crypts showing costumes from the TV series The Tudors. Parts of the series were shot in Christ Church, and I had the interesting experience of being an Extra for the day.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas at Farmleigh

Farmleigh in the Phoenix Park has a lot going this month leading up to Christmas.

Every Saturday & Sunday leading up to the main event, they have a Christmas food market running from 10am to 5pm.  There's storytelling, a festive crib (what would a non-festive crib include, I wonder?  The one in our house always had a rhinoceros in it since my 2 year old brother decided he was a farm animal) and other kid-friendly events going each day too.  Most Sundays will feature some kind of carol singers, with various different groups participating.  6 different days of activities, you've no excuse not to get down there. 

Full details are here.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

National Crafts & Design Fair

My Christmas traditionally starts at the National Crafts & Design Fair at the RDS. In the past it has often taken place over the second weekend of December, so it came to me as something of a panicked surprise when a designer friend remarked earlier in the week that she was going to be there at the end of this week. Some quick juggling of things later, I found myself marching towards the RDS this afternoon.



In the past I have also usually visited during the weekend days, so I was expecting crowds to be thinner. All the same, the halls were busy, which on a weekday afternoon in recessionary times was very good to see. All three halls were still in place: two dedicated to crafts and design, and one to food, although I did get a feeling that the two smaller halls had more space around stalls than in previous years.

There was the usual variety of crafts to be bought: clothes, woodwork, jewellery, cosmetics (including soaps and the like), paper crafts, decorations, art, foods and much more. I am always very impressed with the general quality at the fair. I think it's a brilliant reflection of the sheer amount of Irish and Irish-based creative talent available. I would urge visitors to take a breather from shopping and to pay particular attention to the design exhibition held in the Industries Hall. It is always good but this year's pieces were particularly breathtaking. Regrettably I was not able to note the names of designers, but I loved the large anvil made of solid glass, the knitted/crocheted dresses and the lacy parasol.

As ever, I was able to get a lot of my seasonal shopping sorted even while enjoying the festive and creative atmosphere. I would recommend the fair for all, not least because supporting our own artists and designers is crucial in gloomy economic times.

National Crafts & Design Fair runs at the RDS until Sunday 4 December; Friday 10 am - 10 pm, Saturday and Sunday 10 am - 7 pm; Admission €10, OAP €8, Accompanied children under 16 free.

First Thursday - December 2011

Oops! I've left this a little late to mention, but tonight is another First Thursday, when galleries and art spaces around the city remain open later than usual. A lot of these are around Temple Bar, so I should also mention that for the next few weeks as we approach Christmas the shops on Cow's Lane are due to stay open late on Thursdays.

Book launch: The Albert Bender Collection of Asian Art in the National Museum of Ireland

Dr Audrey Whitty, the Collins Barracks curator who very kindly did an interview with Dublin Culture earlier this year, has published a new book in the National Museum's Monograph Series on the Albert Bender Collection, just in time for Christmas!

Albert Bender was born in Ireland but went to live with an uncle in San Francisco at an early age.  He went into the insurance business and was a multi-millionaire by his mid-twenties.  San Francisco was a gateway from the East and Bender developed an interest in Asian art and later became a great philanthropist.  He donated a fantastic collection of over 250 items to the National Museum in the 1930s.  The Louvre actually wanted it but Bender gave Dublin, his native city, first refusal and luckily they didn't.  Ireland didn't have much in the way of Asian art at this stage and our fledgling museum kept it.  The collection includes some particularly beautiful Tibetan Buddhist Thangkas (painted textiles depicting Buddhist scenes) and Japanese ukiyo-e (wood-block prints).  Through almost benign neglect, it was stored and ignored for several decades until Audrey got her hands on it.  The permanent exhibition opened in the Barracks in 2008 and this book is the result of several years research by Audrey.  She not only documents the collection but goes into the backdrop of how the museum ended up with it.  It's beautifully photographed as well.

The book was launched last night in the Barracks by Roisín Ingle of the Irish Times and is on sale now in the Museum Book shop.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Prophet of Monto @ Axis: Ballymun

The short review: it's only on until Saturday and it's awesome so buy tickets now.

The proper review:

It's a 2 person play, done in monologues.  Often, I do not enjoy this sort of play.  This was not often.  It grabs you by the throat from the opening lines and doesn't let go.  My attention didn't waver, I wasn't distracted by the audience or the rigging, etc.  Both actors, Laoisa Sexton and Michael Mellamphy, were brilliant.  I'm only sorry I didn't hear Laoisa's real accent because her inner city Dublin accent was spot on, down to nuance and facial expression and there was a moment where she did another Irish accent so perfectly.  John Paul Murphy's script is tight and funny, in a Roddy Doyle-laughing at your own misfortune way.  I actually wondered how it played with American audiences - remember how they allegedly issued a glossary when they screened The Committments

Yes, I may have really enjoyed this play.  It runs for about an hour and a half and there's no interval, so don't drink too much beforehand!

Art Alley in Malahide

 Art Alley in Malahide have asked me to mention that as a celebration of 10 years exhibiting their own work in St Sylvester's GAA club, they are having a 25% off sale this coming Sunday.  They'll be in the hall from 11am to 5pm (as is the case every week) and all are welcome to come have a look.  People often consider buying original art as an extravagance but believe me, for the price of some mass-produced prints from big DIY chains, you could have original art in your home.  It's more interesting to look at, as evidenced by some of the members' work, and could make nice, Irish-made Christmas presents.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Christ Church Cathedral Christmas Market

Hot off the press release:
Christ Church Cathedral Christmas Market

Saturday 26 November & 3, 10 & 17 December

Christ Church Cathedral is delighted to announce the return of its popular Christmas Market following its phenomenal success last year. The market, now in its second year, benefits from an impressive, unique location in the atmospheric 12th Century crypt of the Cathedral, the oldest structure in Dublin.

The Christmas Market will run for 4 dates this Christmas over 4 consecutive Saturdays, beginning on the 26th November and will continue on the 3rd, 10th & 17th December. Trading times will be 11am-4pm.

The Christmas Market is held indoors in the 12th Century crypt, with a total of 15 stalls creating an intimate festive shopping experience and will feature

Arts, Crafts, Jewellery and craft stalls including those by up and coming Irish designers. This year there will also be food stalls outside in the Cathedral grounds and entry to the market will be free.


I dropped by last year. It's strikingly odd to see stalls in the crypt, with people sitting around eating, drinking tea and coffee, and of course shopping. A most snow-proof concept.

Reminder - The Wire event this evening

I've mentioned this before but I'll remind you now because this will be a great, fun event - and it's on this evening:
Dublintellectual Invite You To....
"All the Pieces Matter": A Night of The Wire
20:00, Friday 25th Nov
Block T, Smithfield

Francis Halsall, NCAD: "Social Systems in The Wire"
Niall Heffernan, UCC: "It's all in the Game: Game Theory in The Wire"
Barry Shanahan, UCD: "Authenticity and Representation in The Wire"
Daniel Fitzpatrick: ""The City as Body in Deadwood and The Wire"

Screening of a Mystery Episode

Followed by Music Inspired by The Wire

BYOB, Admission €5

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Royal Hibernian Academy - exhibition of Irish craft

Eye Candy Orange and Green (Catherine Keenan)


Starting today the RHA is about to host an exhibition of Irish craft:
For the first time, the Crafts Council of Ireland will hold an exhibition at the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) in Dublin. A selection of work from Irish Craft Portfolio 2011 will showcase contemporary work by some of Ireland’s most internationally-recognised makers.

Opens: 6pm, Thursday November 24, 2011
Where: RHA Gallery, Ely Place, Dublin 2
Exhibition Runs: November 24 – November 28, 2011
Online: www.irishcraftportfolio.ie

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Two new plays out in the Pearse Centre

Sheer Tantrum Theatre Company have two new plays starting tomorrow, 21st November, in the Pearse Centre on Pearse Street. Tickets cost €15/€12 and cover the two plays, except for the matinee performances which cost €7 and feature only one of the plays.

Here are the theatre company's descriptions of the two pieces:
The Applicant: Rachel needs Ian to have a winning smile. Ian doesn’t really care as long as he gets the job, or better still gets with Rachel. An absurd comedy that slaps in the face of recession!

Voices in the Rubble: Avril thinks she just killed the postman; then again it could be a case of mistaken identity. An absurdist comedy that pushes the boundaries of conventional marriage!


You can buy tickets over on entertainment.ie.

Friday, November 18, 2011

One act plays by La Touche Players

La Touche Players, based at the Teachers' Club, are being busy for the benefit of the drama-loving people in the city (and why not from further away, as well). They will be staging two one-act plays, nightly at 8 pm from Tuesday 22nd to Saturday 26th of November.

Here is what they have to say about them:

Smitten' by Anna Stillaman and Mark Matthews

In Smitten we find ourselves privy to a disturbing world lurking beneath the mask of normality in suburbia. The play starts somewhat innocently with two people who meet one stormy night. However, all is not what it seems, as each of them is hiding a deep secret... all will be revealed!

Directed by Karen Maher


‘Can't Stand Up for Falling Down' by Richard Cameron

Three women, Lynette, Ruby and Jodie, all from the same village, tell us about their lives now and in the past and how one man has had a profound effect on each of them. Their interweaving stories build to a climax which unites them against his brutish behaviour.

Directed by Emily Maher


Tickets €15 (concessions €12) are available at the door, or by emailing in advance latouche.bookings at gmail.com


The venue is the Teachers' Club, Parnell Square.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Government Inspector by Nikolai Gogol - via Roddy Doyle

Photo by Ros Kavanagh, courtesy of The Abbey

I just want to mention briefly that the Abbey's Christmas production is The Government Inspector by Nikolai Gogol.  It's a new version by Roddy Doyle.  I studied this in college so I'm really excited to see it and will have a review for our readers soon after it opens.  It starts previews next week and runs until the end of January.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Review: Resurrection Blues

It's late at night, and I find myself reading about the Gulf of Tonkin Incident that led to the Vietnam War. Why? Because earlier this week I saw Arthur Miller's Resurrection Blues, the latest production from No Drama Theatre, and it's a thought-provoking play that lingers in the mind. Miller was perhaps the greatest American playwright of the 20th century, and though Resurrection Blues isn't one of his better-known plays it nonetheless provides a lot to consider.

No Drama are an amateur theatre company who have previously had success with plays such as Ecstasy and Wyrd Sisters. Resurrection Blues is an altogether tougher challenge. Set in a fictional Latin American country ruled by a military dictator, the play is a satire about a captured political prisoner who might or might not be the second coming of Christ. Rather than presenting us directly with the experiences of this Christ-like revolutionary, the play tells us his story through other characters. There's the country's dictator, General Felix Barriaux (Patrick O'Callaghan) and his relatives; an American TV crew; a follower of the messianic protagonist; and of course the omni-present military.

The opening monologue by Janine (Maria Dillon) is one of the best scenes of the play. Henri (David Ryan), the dictator's cousin, also has some wonderful lines; his conversation with American TV producer Skip (Ruairí De Burca) is right at the heart of the play, presenting not only two utterly different views of the world but also looking at the similarities between ancient myth and modern PR as forms of belief.

The characters' accents are something of a puzzle though. Janine and Emily (Sarah Moloney) are both played with accents; other characters much less so. I'm not sure if that's a deliberate choice - is Henri's lack of accent due to his education and travels? - or an inconsistency.

A more serious criticism is that at times the play feels lacking in pace and engagement. I don't think that's due to the production, it's the play itself. Miller's characters' seem intentionally archetypal or even absurd rather than emotionally credible. Their purpose seems to be to create a discussion; their actions are ineffective. The play is an intellectually interesting commentary on our world, and on belief: despite having an element of comedy, partly provided by the background action, this is a play for the head, not the heart.

The previous No Drama plays I've seen have been excellent, and I thoroughly enjoyed (and recommended) both. Resurrection Blues is more complicated: this play is challenging not only for the theatre company but also for the audience. At times, it felt as if members of the audience weren't sure how to react - should we be laughing or horrified? (Perhaps that's how Miller would have wanted it.) If you're looking purely for a traditional narrative and easy laughs this isn't the play for you. On the other hand if you enjoy mulling over an insightful and unusual play, this is worth seeing.

Resurrection Blues continues until Saturday 19th November in the Teachers Club on Parnell Square. Doors open at 7:45 pm and the play starts at 8 pm, running for about 150 minutes including a 15 minute interval. (There's a nice, well-stocked bar.) Tickets cost €12.

Dublintellectual - Conversations on Culture

Dublintellectual have an event on this evening in the Ormond Wine Bar on Ormond Quay at 8 pm. Their speakers are Elaine Byrne (lecturer, journalist and political analyst), Douglas Carson (Architectural Association of Ireland) and Liam Lanigan (Joycean Scholar). I've enjoyed Dublintellectual events before, and this is a good choice of venue, so it should be fun. Admission is free.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Après Paris, 17th November @ The Sugar Club

We've been asked to mention a fundraiser taking place this Thursday for PhotoIreland, a festival running next July.  Entry is a tiny €8 and includes entry to a raffle and a drinks reception.  There's a performance by Duke Special too.  The theme will be Paris contemporary photography and will feature highlights from Paris Photo, Nofound Photofair, Photo Off, Photo Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Fotofever, Offprint, PhotoQuai 2011, this will be a night to remember.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Prophet of Monto @ Axis: Ballymun

The Prophet of Monto by John Paul Murphy begins a short run on 29th November at Axis: Ballymun, its Irish premiere.  It's a love triangle story: twins and their relationship with Zoe, who may or may not be clairvoyant.  The Prophet of Monto won all sorts of awards at the First Irish Festival in New York last year.  But don't take my word for it: here's a video about it, which made me want to see it.  I have a side discussion about using videos to promote theatre, but I'll save it for another day.


Axis are giving away a couple of tickets to the show.  There's a question, as with all good competitions.  Google should help you with the answer, which you should send to John O'Brien.
What New York Theatre did The Prophet of Monto have its world premiere in? 

The Prophet of Monto runs from 29th November to 3rd December and you can book tickets now.

China through the Lens of John Thomson: 1868-1872

I'm embarrassed to admit that I often forget about the Chester Beatty Library when looking at what's on in our city.  When I do remember, I nearly always want to got there immediately to see their latest exhibition, and the one starting next week is no different.  China through the Lens of John Thomson: 1868-1872 features the photos of China at a very early period of photography taken during several trips.  The exhibition will feature 50 images from his collection along with Chinese clothing and accessories from the Chester Beatty's own collection.  Sounds fascinating: I am so there.  And even better, it runs until the end of February so plenty of time to see it.

Mythic Links Series

Mythic Links mythology group organises a series of lectures every year, with the aim of bringing scholarship, artistry, insights of psychology and other authentic sources to the general audience in an accessible way. The Autumn 2011 events can be seen here.

This Thursday, 17 November at 7.30 pm (sharp), Mary McKenna FRIAI will be speaking on Irish Myth in Art and Popular Culture. The event will take place at the United Arts Club and is open to all. Admission is €5 for the Club members and €8 for non-members.

Rivane Neuenschwander at IMMA

Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander's exhibition Rivane Neuenschwander: A Day Like Any Other will open at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, New Galleries, on Wednesday 16 November and will continue until 29 January. The exibition is an overview of Neuenschwander's career at 'participatory based art practice', which, according to the IMMA website, 'merges painting, photography, film, sculpture, immersive installations'. If you are impatient (as you should be), you can catch a preview of this exhibition at IMMA tomorrow, Tuesday 15 November, following a talk by the artist herself and the director of special projects, Richard Flood. The talk will take place at 5 pm and, in addition to the exhibition preview, is also followed by a wine reception.

Science Week - 13th November to 20th November

Today is the start of Science Week. A lot of the events are aimed at kids, but on the other hand there are events with names like "2011 Statutory Public Lecture of the School of Theoretical Physics, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies" and "How Science is Explaining the Basis for Inflammatory Diseases - Prof. Luke O'Neill". The Dublin Rocks tour is a nice idea, "The audio-guided walk mixes architecture and history with geology and science. Download the audio commentary from our website, and take the tour at your own pace. Allow about 2 hours for the full tour."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Eirtakon - anime convention

Eirtakon is on this weekend in the Helix in DCU. Its website says it's Ireland's largest anime convention. Looks like there's also cosplay and gaming.

The Temple Oyster Bar

Each Saturday there's a food market in Temple Bar from 10 am to 4:30 pm. It used to be in Meeting House Square and I expect it'll return there, but at the moment it's scattered across several locations.

One of the stalls is The Temple Oyster Bar, currently located on Cow's Lane. A "single shooter" is €2, but they also offer platters of oysters accompanied by soda-bread and white wine. There's a wide range of the condiments you'd expect, such as tabasco sauce and lemon.


This was my first time trying oysters. I love seafood and this was the most marine-tasting thing I've ever eaten. I liked it, although not as much as I like sushi or sashimi.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tickets to give away for No Drama's upcoming production of Resurrection Blues

No Drama Theatre are about to start their next production, Resurrection Blues. It'll open on Tuesday 15th November and run until 19th November, starting at 8 pm each evening. Here's what No Drama have to say about it:

A prisoner who can walk through walls….
a dictator…
a daughter….
moral dilemmas….
the mob mentality….
an American TV crew….

Could this really be the second coming of Christ?
Could we really crucify again?

No Drama Theatre follows its sell out performance of Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy with this controversial yet comical satirical production.


I very much enjoyed No Drama's previous productions so I expect this will probably also be good.

Tickets normally cost €12... but we have a pair of tickets to give away. You can mail me at dave@dublinculture.ie or send me a tweet (@dublinculture). I'll edit this post once the tickets have been given away. Edit: OK folks, this offer is now closed. I'll be in touch with the winner.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Review: The Country Girls

Back in the 1960s the publication of Edna O'Brien's The Country Girls was, so I'm told, something of a sensation and a scandal, telling as it did the story of Ireland's transition from a traditional Catholic, rural society to a more urban and sexually aware one. The book has now been adapted for the stage by the author, and the play is running in the Gaiety Theatre.

Here's how the Gaiety describes it:
The Country Girls tells the story of Kate and Baba, two girls who have spent their childhood together in rural Ireland. Leaving their sheltered convent school in search of life and love in the big city, they struggle to maintain their tumultuous relationship. Kate, dreamy and romantic, yearns for true love; while Baba wants to experience the life of a single girl. They set out to conquer the world together but as their lives take unexpected turns, including Kate’s romantic encounter with Mr. Gentleman, the girls must ultimately learn to find their own way.


That's a fair and accurate summary of the play, although the website also says the play is "truly contemporary". Well no, it isn't. The archetypes of the past - stern old nuns, Catholic schoolgirls, drunken fathers - are still familiar to us, but attitudes to romance and sex have quite clearly moved on, so much so that even the newer, rebellious relationships of the main characters now look dated.

Fortunately a play doesn't have to be contemporary to be good or enjoyable. The play is well cast and well acted; it's easy to empathise with the protagonist, Kate, played by Holly Browne.

It's a cliché to say I was left wanting more, but I mean it as both a compliment and criticism. I enjoyed the play, but the conclusion - for all that it made sense - felt a little underwhelming, as if it could have been the end of an act instead of an entire play. An entertaining play, but unremarkable.

Rating: 3/5

The play continues until Saturday 12th November. Tickets cost from €15.

Knitting & Stitching

The Knitting & Stitching Show returns to the RDS today for its annual 4 day visit.  I will of course be attending in my "knitting nerd" capacity.  Expect to see all the major knitting shops in Ireland and the UK, with a wide selection of sewing, fabric and other craft-related and specialist stands.  There's also classes and workshops in various crafts available.  It's open 10 - 17:30 each day (except Sunday when it closes 30 minutes earlier).  Be warned though, entry is a steep €15 and you are guaranteed to spend more money in there.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

B for Baby @ The Peacock

B for Baby by Carmel Winters has come back home to The Peacock, after a 3 month tour around the country.  It's a two person play set mostly around a man, B, and a woman, D, living in a care home.  You realise fairly quickly that they have special needs but the play is not about their disabilities, it's about how they interact with each other and how B interacts with Mrs C, one of the care workers.  Louis Lovett and Michele Moran reprise their dual roles from the original production at last year's Ulster Bank Theatre Festival.  Some of the action takes place between Mrs C and her husband outside the home.

It is superbly acted.  Lovett's ability to switch from Brian to B is so great that at times I forgot he was the same actor.  Moran too - the first time she switched role, I wasn't entirely sure for a minute that it was the same actress.  No doubt the fact that they've been touring with the play and playing these roles for several months helps - it's a tight production which runs like clockwork.

Like most Peacock sets, it's minimal but I really liked that the actors did all the stage placement themselves - taking down furniture from hooks in the ceiling.  The bland palette of sky blue and white adds to the feeling that they are in their own little world and props like a Christmas tree with its bright injection of green look almost other worldly.

Though there are many laughs, this production is at its heart intense and the subject matter is difficult, not to mention hotly disputed.  From the opening lines, I was right in there and my attention did not wander during the 1.5 hours.  Lines and ideas have stayed with me and it keeps coming back into my mind - that's a sign of a good performance.  But don't take my word for it - see it yourself.

B for Baby runs until 19th November.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"All the Pieces Matter": An Evening of The Wire

Dublintellectual are holding an event on Friday 25th November based around the HBO series The Wire. I think the event is a great example of what Dublintellectual do - applying academic expertise (especially from the humanities) to popular culture. Where else would you get the chance to hear about game theory in The Wire while drinking whiskey in honour of Jimmy McNulty?

As a bonus, the setting for the event is Block T in Smithfield. It's wonderfully shabby in a chic, comfy sort of way.

Details:
Dublintellectual and Block T invite you to "All the Pieces Matter": An Evening of The Wire
Friday 25th Nov at 20:00
BYOB, Admission €5

Francis Halsall, NCAD: "Social Systems in The Wire"
Niall Heffernan, UCC: "It's all in the Game: Game Theory in The Wire"
Barry Shanahan, UCD: "Authenticity and Representation in The Wire"
Daniel Fitzpatrick: "The City as Body in Deadwood and The Wire"

Screening of a Mystery Episode

Followed by Music Inspired by The Wire

Monday, November 7, 2011

Madeleine Peyroux in the National Concert Hall

We got a request to let you all know about a concert in the National Concert Hall on Tuesday 8th November. Since I'm not familiar with Madeleine Peyroux I can't really comment on whether she's any good, but the National Concert Hall is reliable at putting on high-quality performances so hopefully Peyroux will be worth a listen.

Hot off the press release:
VENUE: National Concert Hall, Dublin
TIME: 8.00pm
DATE: Tuesday November 8, 2011

Madeleine Peyroux, named Best International Jazz Artist at the 2007 BBC Jazz Awards, is to perform in concert in Ireland for the first time since 2007.

Peyroux (pronounced like the country Peru), who is renowned for her interpretive song skills, is best known for her stunning, gold-certified 2004 album, ‘Careless Love’. Her fifth album “Standing on the Rooftop” was released in Ireland & the UK this summer.


Tickets cost €25 to €35 and can be bought on nch.ie.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Upcoming plays

It's now been more than two weeks since Dublin's festival season ended with the close of this year's Dublin Theatre Festival, and after a bit of a break I'm starting to get the must-see-more-plays jitters. So here's a list of a few of the plays on in Dublin over November:

Already up and running at the moment in the Abbey Theatre is B for Baby by Theatre Lovett. I liked this when I saw it last year as part of the 2010 Dublin Theatre Festival. My review is here. The play runs until 19th November.

Monday 7th - The Smell of Want in Project Arts Centre. This dance theatre performance has already run in New York and received good reviews. Could be pretty intense, given that the website says: "Suitable ages 16+, may contain nudity. Audience members may be asked to leave at any point during the performance." Runs until 12th November.

Monday 7th - The New Theatre on East Essex St. has something a little different to the normal theatre experience, their New Writing Week. Each night this week through to Saturday 12th they have a pair of play-readings of newly-written (or at least as-yet-unperformed) scripts.

Wednesday 9th - more dance theatre in Project Arts, this time Touch Me by CoisCéim Dance Theatre. Runs until 19th November.

Friday 11th - Bogboy in Axis Theatre in Ballymun. I haven't seen it but it seems to have received good reviews.

Friday 11th - Fight Night is on in the Mill Theatre in Dundrum. It'll also be on in Axis Theatre on 17th November, with a Dinner Theatre special of €25 for the show and a three-course meal.

Monday 14th - Tyranny in Beckett: Catastrophe, As the Story was Told, Rough for Radio II, What Where in the recently reopened Smock Alley Theatre. The theatre company behind this is called Mouth on Fire and were (so their website says) set up last year to "bring Beckett to the general public and make his work accessible to those who may never have had a chance to experience it before". Good, good, more of that kind of thing. The play continues until Sunday 20th. Oh, and one of the nice things about Smock Alley is that it's nearby to the Ormond Wine Bar, which last time I checked sells a bottle of red for just €9.50 or so.

Monday 21st - Druid Theatre will be in the Gaiety with their production of John B. Keane's Big Maggie: "Set in 1960s rural Ireland, Big Maggie is a compelling portrait of a woman who is determined to take control of her life following the death of her husband. Shocking for its time – the play premiered in 1969 – the portrait that Keane painted of the dark side of Irish family life seems now to be eerily prescient." Runs until 26th November.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Crash Ensemble presents Young Americans, Liberty Hall

We've also been asked to mention that Crash Ensemble are playing in the Liberty Hall theatre on 25th November.  I'm feeling a bit lazy, so here's the press release.

Young Americans | November 25th|Pre-Show Talk 6pm|Concert 8pm |Liberty Hall Dublin

This diverse concert will include fresh and exciting pieces by dynamic composers including:
Sean Friar, whose 'Velvet Hammer' has been nominated for this year's Gaudeamus Prize; Missy Mazzoli, 'Brooklyn's post-millenial Mozart' (Time Out NY); 
Timothy Andres, who Alex Ross says “achieves an unhurried grandeur that has rarely been felt in American music since John Adams";
and Ken Ueno, winner of the 2010-2011 Berlin Prize, whose influences range from Tuvan throat-singing and Heavy Metal subtone vocals to Japanese traditional music. 

Young Americans will include the WORLD PREMIERE of a new work written especially for Crash Ensemble by NIco Muhly, the hottest composer on the planet" (The Daily Telegraph). Alongside the new commission, two more Muhly pieces will be featured.  

Muhly’s first opera,Two Boys, was premiered by the English National Opera this summer to critical acclaim. He is well known for his collaborations with artists such as Antony and the Johnsons, Björk and Jonsi from Sigur Rós. His film credits include scores for Joshua (2007), and Best Picture nominee The Reader (2008). 

“I have always been a huge fan of the Crash Ensemble; I am inherently trustful of ensembles that are co-piloted by composers and performers…I am hugely honored to be one of the newest commissionees.” Nico Muhly

Nico Muhly's new work for Crash Ensemble was commissioned using funds provided by the Arts Council of Ireland.

PROGRAMME:

Nico Muhly- How About Now
Missy Mazzoli - Still Life With Avalanche
Sean Friar- Velvet Hammer
Timothy Andres- Crashing Through Fences
Ken Ueno- ...blood blossoms...
Nico Muhly- It Goes Without Saying
Nico Muhly- New Commission WORLD PREMIERE

Tickets: €25 /€18 conc. Early bird: €20 conc. Booking fee included. www.tickets.ie

Nico Muhly Public interview
Pre-show public interview of Nico Muhly by Bernard Clarke, RTÉ Lyric fm
6.00pm, 25th November in Liberty Hall’s Connolly Room. www.tickets.ie

Incubated Works @ the Monster Truck Gallery

Courtesy of Noilin O'Kelly
Incubated Works is a new exhibition by Noilin O'Kelly which is opening at the Monster Truck Gallery in Temple Bar next week.  The crux of the exhibition is an examination of whether old buildings can contain memories and the power of abandoned buildings.  She's made excellent use of her (now derelict) grandmother's house, which still contains personal property to create a unique and personal exhibition.

Courtesy of Noilin O'Kelly
Incubated Works runs from 12th November to 3rd December.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

'The Big Deal' in Project Arts Centre - special offer

One of my favourite theatres, Project Arts Centre in Temple Bar, has a new play out called The Big Deal. I haven't seen it so I can't recommend it but plays in Project Arts are usually good. Tickets cost €16.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Eve of All Hallows Festival in St. Patrick’s Cathedral

St. Patrick's Cathedral have a programme of family-friendly Halloween events for today. There's a range of children's activities, tours of the cathedral, a tour of the cathedral's graves, and finally at 4:30 pm a candle-lit organ recital. Most of the events do not require booking.

Ticket prices:
Family tickets: €15 (two adults and up to four children)
Adult admission: €5.50
Concessions and children over seven: €4.50
Children under seven: free

Well done to St Patrick's. I think it's great to see this sort of open and inviting use of such venues.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

'All the Ends of the Earth' - Ergodos in Project Arts Centre

For one show only, music company Ergodos are in Project Arts Centre this evening (Saturday 29th October) with a performance called All the Ends of the Earth. The programme features seven works inspired by the Medieval French composer Léonin. No, I haven't heard of him before either, but I quite liked the sample track ("Revelavit") by Linda Buckley over on her website, lindabuckley.org.

Here's part of what Ergodos have to say about this show:
“It is this transcendentalism that has captured the aural imagination of several young composers. All the Ends of the Earth showcases three Irish composers who have found inspiration in the clarity of Léonin’s constructions, and the quality of his simple materials: Garrett Sholdice’s work represents a new and personal conceptualization of Léonin’s forms; Benedict Schlepper-Connolly’s language resonates with the austerity of Léonin – Schlepper-Connolly continuously re-shapes, and strips away, searching for an essence; Linda Buckley’s slow-burning, almost gothic works invoke the muscular harmonic world of medieval organum.”


In case you're wondering, very little actually seems to be known about Léonin. His music stands on its own, with almost no biographical story to accompany it.

Tickets cost €15/€10 and the performance is on at 8 PM.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review: Halloween - Dark Stories at National Leprechaun Museum

We recently highlighted the Dark Stories event organised by National Leprechaun Museum for the nights surrounding Halloween. Last night, of all nights, a preview was held, and a number of bloggers and writers braved the elements to get a glimpse of the Otherworld. Little did we know that by the time we would emerge into the streets of Dublin again, the Otherworld would have followed us and attempted to drag the city away into the depths.

I will not say too much to avoid spoiling the experience. The participants are sent off on a journey through the lands of spirits and death, through darkness - and there is a lot of darkness - and stories of old and new. This is most decidedly not a jolly haunted house for the kids: the stories are laden with gore, sex and mystical rock'n'roll. At least one of the story points was genuinely unsettling, and I was, in fact, rather glad to have a companion along whose hand to hold. The transitions from one room to another could have been smoother; at the first transition the group was left wondering for a couple of minutes which way to go at a dead end, which jarred a little. However, this was a minor moment of confusion. The performers were skilled and convincing and the environments creatively put together. After we completed the journey, we were served some tasty poitin while an enthusiastic gentleman told us more stories, this time about ghost hunting.

It was a very enjoyable experience put together by people who clearly sincerely love what they are doing. It is a tendency for any people to not pay a great deal of attention to their own heritage. Even as I would definitely recommend the Leprechaun Museum to foreigners, I would strongly encourage the natives to visit as well. You might discover that the stories resound with parts of you of which you were not previously aware. Samhain Nights would be a perfect opportunity for a first visit. Just remember to hold on to the little gift you're given before you embark on your journey - it might just save your life.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Correction - Dine in Dublin times

We got a very helpful comment in response to Claire's recent post about Dine in Dublin. Thanks, Kathryn. Here's the comment:

The menus are actually running each evening FROM 7pm* not before and they are running concurrently with A la Carte menus. You will be given a choice of choosing from the specific Dine In Dublin Menu or you can choose to select from their traditional menu.

*Some menus are running for longer.


Personally I'm delighted to see that some of the Dine in Dublin offers are for only €15 or €20, as I'd previously thought that the €25 to €30 price range just wasn't much of a special offer in many cases.

I'd recommend L'Gueuleton, Ely, Saba, and/or the Unicorn (only €25!). I'm a little disappointed to see that Le Mere Zou isn't listed.

Grand Canal Theatre to change its name

Er, what?

The Grand Canal Theatre is to change its name to the Bord Gais Energy Theatre from 7th March 2012, according to reports this lunch time.  Is this a joke?  Bord Gáis only recently put up their prices again for domestic customers and yet they have the money to sponsor a name-change of a theatre for the next 6 years?  I can't imagine this will do their PR image any good.  Apparently though, the deal includes discounts on tickets for BG customers and the GCT will switch to Bord Gais for the energy supply.  Hopefully there won't be quite so many texts as from O2 re: the PointThe O2.  I feel quite grumpy about this news.

Gaelcon

Gaelcon, Ireland's premier games convention, returns to the Ballsbridge Inn (D4 Hotels)** this coming bank holiday weekend for 3.5 days of board games, war games, role-play games, and card games with trade stands and industry guests.  Many of the day events are child-friendly and parents can accompany them.  Evening activities include the annual table quiz and charity auction with the money going to selected children's charities.  Their website has all the details of the jam-packed schedule.  Tickets range from €7 a day per child to €28 for a full weekend adult ticket.  I've been to this event more times than I care to admit, even taking "recovery" days off work and it's always good fun.  I'm sure this year won't be any different.

**Due to the unprecedented weather last night, the Ballsbridge Inn is flooded and closed.  Gaelcon has been moved to the concert hall part of the RDS, on the corner of Anglesea Rd and Merrion Rd.   It's not up on the website yet but apparently it's not a joke.  I'll keep an eye on their twitter feed for any further information.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dine In Dublin is back!

Dine in Dublin returns from 24th - 30th October 2011.  During that week, participating restaurants will have good set menus of their most popular dishes at promotional prices ranging from €15 - €30.  The à la carte menus are also available.  In the past, it's always been just €25 or €30 menus so it's nice to see a response to harder times.  Presumably also part of that is a deal they've done with Park Rite who will provide discounted parking in certain car parks (surprisingly including the normally scandalously priced Fleet St) at an evening rate of €3.  It's not clear to me how you prove you are participating in Dine in Dublin to the car park payment machine though.

So what restaurants are taking part this year?  There's a big list this year.  Highlights for me would be Fallon & Byrne and Dada.  There's a quite a few in suburbs this year too.  On that list, I like Washerwoman's Hill in Glasnevin and Essence in Swords.  You do need to mention Dine in Dublin when you reserve at table, and it has to be before 7pm, which I think is not terribly in the spirit of the whole thing.  Over all, though it's a great way to try out restaurants you haven't eaten in before. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Stampa 2011

Stampa is the annual national stamp exhibition.  It's now in its 40th year and takes places this coming weekend from 21st - 23rd October in the RDS in Ballsbridge.  It's in the Serpentine Hall.  For Irish stamp collectors, this is the highlight of the year.  Along with exhibitions, collectors can get valuations, trade and buy stamps and avail of special covers printed for Stampa.  They also have competitions to win various collectable stamps and first day covers.  Surely a must for Dublin philatelists.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Review: The Wild Bride

I am stingy with my standing ovations. I sometimes feel that they are delivered too easily in the Irish theatre. Yet, last night, I was one of the first to pop up like a meercat in the avalanche of applause and shouting that greeted The End of Kneehigh's The Wild Bride. Part Brothers Grimm, part musical, part a lovechild of Neil Gaiman and Tim Burton, it's all wonderful.

The Wild Bride channels old folktales about the tribulations and triumphs of the female spirit. The roles are archetypal and nameless: the important, near Freudian, dual masculine of The Father/The Prince, the threefold self of The Girl/The Wild/The Woman, The Devil and The Musician. The limited cast are reminiscent of mystery plays or mummers. At no point is the audience allowed to forget that this is a play, a story. Folktale motifs appear here and there throughout the tripartite set, the events are narrated in skillful rhyme by the Devil (magnificent Stuart McLoughlin), and the cast occasionally slams the door in the fourth wall wide open. The dreamlike, timeless stage setting, with its dark, earthy and sepia tones, interacts well with the red opulence of the Gaiety Theatre. The spectator is moved slightly out of time and place.

The cast are remarkably multitalented. Acting aside, the roles involve dancing, live music and singing. The music is a heady mix of gospel, jazz, ragtime, blues and folk. The singing is as good as it can be in a theatre environment, with Audrey Brisson (The Girl) in particular producing unearthly chants from such a small frame.

"I didn't think theatre came that good in this country," remarked my rather cynical companion as we were leaving. As it happens, Kneehigh are based in Cornwall. Full points to the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival for bringing them to us. I for one will keep keeping an eye on this company and agree with my companion who proceeded to announce, "I'd travel for them."

The Wild Bride at the Gaiety very sadly ends today after only three performances.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Over 50s Show & Back to my Past at the RDS

Never let it be said that we are solely about crazy young people activities.  The Over 50s Show returns to the RDS the weekend after next, 21 - 23 October.  It's a fairly comprehensive event covering travel, health, beauty, hobbies, financial advice and gardening.  There's competitions as well.  It costs €10 to get in.

As part of it, they have a "Back to our Past" show, which is for all you budding genealogists out there.  Now, I'm far from over 50 but I have done a lot of work in tracing my ancestry.  I haven't been in previous years but I am going this year.  It will feature all the major genealogy organisations working in Ireland like the National Archives, the National Library, Eneclann, Who do you think you are magazine, Irish Roots magazine, Roots Ireland, Ancestry, Find My Past.   I could go on.  They also have an extensive lecture program which will feature various famous genealogists (for certain values of famous!)  Unfortunately, most of the really good ones are on Friday, when those of us under 50 will be at work.  I'm particularly interested to hear the talk on how they film Who do you think you are? and one about getting the best from newspapers.  This event is also €10 to get in - it's not clear if it's the same tenner or a second one.  You can get a an advance ticket for a fiver from Irish Genealogy News and there's also online booking.  Happy Hunting!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Samhain nights at the National Leprechaun Museum

We have become jaded by the green-hat-topped Walt Disney-esque characters waving at tourists on Grafton Street and around the Molly Malone statue. There is much more to leprechauns and their cousins than meets the modern cynical eye. Contrary to the initial reaction of many, the National Leprechaun Museum is doing well for itself. They are going heavily in the direction of actual Irish folklore and their Culture Night storytelling session for adults [1] sold out very quickly. Indeed by the time this writer heard about it all the tickets were well gone, to this writer's great dismay.

Those good folks at the museum are providing more of the good thing by celebrating Samhain (that's Halloween to those whose knowledge of yearly festivals comes from American films) with several nights of storytelling from 27 October to 5 November. Refreshments will be provided each night, with paranormal experts on site on 30 and 31 October. All these shows are dubbed as "interactive performances" which seems to indicate at least a certain amount of audience participation, or at least immersive experience rather than simple passive viewing from outside. These events are strictly over 18 only. Tickets are available at the door, but if the Culture Night experience is anything to go by, you'd do well to book ahead on the website.

27 October - 5 November, 7 pm, 7.30 pm and 8 pm
27-29 October and 1-5 November: Tickets €20 at the door, €15 when booked online
30-31 October: Tickets €30 at the door, €20 when booked online


[1] The concept that storytelling is by default an activity oriented towards children is very modern. And very annoying.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fingers crossed the Lighthouse Cinema will re-open

This article in the Independent suggested we could see the Lighthouse Cinema re-open before the end of the year.  The question remains as to whether it'll be in a similar style to what was there or just another multiplex, albeit with more stylish seats and surroundings.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Leinster House

Kildare St side of Leinster House

I did a tour of Leinster House today, as part of Open House.  We were allowed to take photos, so I took all of them.  It was fantastic.  I was so much more impressed than the time I was there before, aged 10 on a school trip. 

We were first addressed by an OPW architect who gave us a very good, quick history of the house.  It was built by the Earl of Kildare, James FitzGerald in the 1740s and designed by Richard Castle.  He wanted a townhouse, and chose the then unfashionable side of the city.  Merrion Square was not yet built and that side basically faced the countryside.  He was created the first Duke of Leinster in 1766 and with his wife, Lady Emily Lennox, a daughter of the Duke of Richmond, they had 19 children, including Lord Edward FitzGerald.  She was also descended from a illegitimate child of Charles II.  The house was renamed Leinster House at this stage, having earlier been called Kildare House.  It's a Palladian house, just like Carton, their county seat, and Castletown House in nearby Celbridge, the home of Lousia, Emily's sister, and her husband, William Connolly, the Speaker of the House (in the Irish Parliament).  Symmetry is very important in Palladian architecture, so there are a lot of dummy doors and blind panels to balance rooms.  The original house is actually only two rooms wide, with a central corridor running down each floor.  You can see from the Seanad chamber directly down to the door into the Dáil chamber if the doors are open.  I tested this by sitting in the Cathaoirleach's chair!  Our guide throughout the building was just brilliant.  He's a parliamentary usher and knew everything.  Even more impressive was the fact that he was entirely self-taught.  Apparently, they get no book to learn off!

After the 1798 rebellion, the fortune of the Leinsters declined and the house was boarded up.  In 1815, it was purchased by the Royal Dublin Society.  It remained in their hands until a certain Michael Collins decided to lease some of it from them for the 3rd Dáil and eventually the State purchased it from them.  The National Library and Museums on either side of Leinster House replaced the original kitchen and stable blocks.  It was a rare treat to be able to get a front view of the Library from the courtyard in front of it and of Leinster Lawn.  The 3 sections along with the Natural History Museum were originally all interconnected but these access points were sealed up after it became the home of the parliament.  Side point, they originally wanted the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham for the Dáil but the British army took a while getting out of it.
Stairs up to Dáil chamber
 The double height entrance hall is very impressive, with paintings of Griffiths, Cosgrave, Collins, DeV, Mulcahy and the current President on show, though I didn't think was a brilliant likeness of her.  It was impossible to get a good shot of it though.

The Dáil chamber itself is much smaller than it looks on TV.  It has a full set of original Malton Dublin prints (worth a fortune).  Other art of note is the Taoiseach's gallery, featuring all those now retired from the house - hence's Bertie's only went up recently because he was a sitting TD until February.  Cowan's hasn't been done yet.  There's a painting of Countess Markiewicz, done by Lavery (I reckon) and an original copy of the Proclaimation, signed by our second President, Sean T. O'Ceallaigh.   The internal corridor is lined with paintings and photos of Ceann Comhairles, Cathaoirleachs and other important people.  Nowhere near enough women on those walls but as they say, our time will come.   I like to imagine that all these portraits can talk, Hogwarts-style, no doubt helped by the Wesht Wing column in Phoenix Magazine, where a portrait of Collins regularly talks to Enda.

The Seanad Chamber, which I don't think I'd ever seen before, looks like someone let Josiah Wedgwood loose, but in a good way.  We also saw the Cabinet room, the member's library and various other little antechambers, as well as the Leinster House 2000 extension, which is an 11 year old sympathetic, light and airy building, despite being mostly underground.  

Séanad Chamber
View of the central corridor between the two chambers
Ceiling over the Cathaoirleach's chair in the Séanad chamber
Note the upside E in the original Proclaimation
O'Ceallaigh's note about it - as Gaeilge.
Leinster House 2000